Have you already read Oblivious in Dubai: Part 1 – 15?
If not, start HERE!
The creature I was to become was only in its infancy; a newborn lamb entering the pasture; a blessed butterfly emerging from a violent chrysalis.
My final months in-theater had been spent discussing life with the men of the region in which I was living; the land of Pashtuns; men who became the best friends I had ever known.
Zabi, Jalil, Najeeb, Nissar, Haji. You knew me at a very pivotal period in my development as an adult member of our species. Much like members of my own family; you saw me for who I was. We spoke honestly of our lives and experiences while we spent our days together in the office by ECP3.
Nissar – Remember that time that the pickup truck of Afghan National Police guys showed up? I remember your story of watching the Battle of Kandahar from your rooftop as if a fireworks show. My apologies for not trying harder to get food for your pigeons.
Najeeb – I hang our picture in my home but it’s never been published – as promised, my friend. The fear in your eyes as you posed for the picture has haunted me. I hope you are safe and your family is well.
Jalil – Thank you for the kind gift before I left. It remains the foremost comfortable outfit I own. You taught me of my own naivety. I remember the day that we met and I asked you if you were from Kandahar. You said you were Russian and maintained that guise until I had the nerve to call your bullshit. You have a calmness and self-control that only the best and most disciplined types of people are capable of developing. You are wise beyond me, my friend. I pray you are well. Our friendship is among the most shaping of my life experiences. By spending those weeks with us, Jalil, you completely repainted the rose-tinted-lenses from which I viewed the world.
Haji – Thank you for trying to teach me Pashto. I hope that your family is well. I am glad we always had Nissar to translate for us. Your story of your miracle daughter and the advice of your Imam in her coming is still fresh in my mind. Be well, my friend.
Zabi – I am glad that you are safe. I searched for a long time before we found each other on Facebook. The hours and days and weeks that we had to form our friendship have never left my heart. The day I found that you were safe in Canada was a day that I shed a tear of joy. We must meet again. Your picture hangs beside pictures of my brothers on a wall chronicling my life; as does Jalil’s.
There was another group of Afghans whose names elude me; only because there were so many of them. They gave me a name. I keep that name on my arm. Once in a while I hear someone sounding it out as if it were Arabic; I always smile.
Not far from my mind or from my heart are the Afghan teenagers who gave me my name.
I hope that I had as much of an impact on you as you had on me. May we meet again in this life or in the next.